Tawanda Mangoma in DUMISA
Illegal sanctions imposed by Western countries which led to the withdrawal of support for the clearance of landmines will not stop the work being done by the Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA) along the Zimbabwe-Mozambique border. The landmines were planted by Rhodesian forces in a futile attempt to deter liberation war fighters from crossing into the country from their rare bases in Mozambique.
The landmines continue to kill and maim innocent people and animals every year.
The British Government had pledge to fund the demining process, but made an about turn in protest against land reform.
In an interview with The Herald during the second edition of the Mines Awareness Gala which was held at Dumisa Primary School in Chiredzi last week, ZNA Chief of Staff Administration Staff, Major General Douglas Nyikayaramba, said Government was spending $1 million to clear every kilometre infested with the landmines.
Maj Gen Nyikayaramba said the process should have been funded by the British government as a way of paying back for the country’s minerals which it looted.
“This is one area in which the hypocrisy of the British and their American counterparts is exposed,” he said.
“They claim they imposed targeted sanctions on certain individuals, but they withdrew their funding for the demining process.
“We had to act as an army, we had to take note of the complains raised by the villagers in which some got injured, some got killed, some lost their livestock while the free movement of wildlife in the Great Limpopo Trans-frontier Park was affected.”
Maj Gen Nyikayaramba said the job was being made difficult because the British destroyed maps indicating the mine fields.
“We started clearing this area in 2006 coming from Limpopo River up to Sango Border Post after we had finished this excise in other areas,” he said.
“The Rhodesians planted two parallel mine fields which stretch for 53 kilometres and so far we have managed to clear 27km.
“This is a tough job for the boys because the Rhodesians destroyed the maps which would have helped us to quickly do this job.”
ZNA spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Alphious Makotore said they would continue undertaking awareness galas every year to close the information gap existing in the communities.
“This area has no network, they have no access to television and radio broadcasts from Zimbabwe,” he said.
“What you will write in The Herald will not reach this far. This is why we have decided to have this gala undertaken annually so that the community understands the risks and steps which they should take to avoid death or injury from landmines.”
Last year, at least 50 landmines victims received artificial limps from ZNA in the area.
The villagers were entertained by veteran sungura musician Nicholas Zakaria at this year’s gala, who was supported by several army bands.